Making Sense of the Vietnam Wars

Local, National, and Transnational Perspectives
Bradley, Mark Philip
Young, Marilyn B.
Date published: 
June 2008

Making sense of the wars for Vietnam has had a long history. The question 'why Vietnam?' dominated American and Vietnamese political life for much of the length of the Vietnam wars and has continued to be asked in the three decades since they ended. The essays in this inaugural volume of the National History Center's book series 'Reinterpreting History' examine the conceptual and methodological shifts that mark the contested terrain of Vietnam war scholarship. They range top-down reconsiderations of critical decision-making moments in Washington, Hanoi, and Saigon to microhistories of the war that explore its meanings from the bottom up. Some draw on recently available Vietnamese-language archival materials. Others mine new primary sources in the United States or France, Great Britain, the former Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe. Collectively, these essays map the interpretive histories of the Vietnam wars: past, present, and future. They also raise questions about larger meanings and the ongoing relevance of the wars for Vietnam in American, Vietnamese, and international histories of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.